April 20, 2004
Concerned aviation students, parents address Board
About a dozen Aviation Maintenance Technology students and a couple of parents fired numerous questions about the fate of the program at Strother Field toward members of the Cowley Board of Trustees and the administration during Monday night's regular BOT meeting. Board member Ron Godsey was absent.
The group, which was not on the agenda but was allowed to speak anyway by Board Chairman Albert Bacastow Jr., wanted answers to many questions during the 25-minute discussion, including the following: What is the actual date the program is being moved to Wichita? Has the move been discussed? Whose decision was it to move the program? Students also expressed concerns about space issues at the Wichita facility, known as the Aviation Tech Center at 7603 E. Pawnee.
Much of what Board members and Dr. Pat McAtee, Cowley president, had to say centered on the Federal Aviation Administration and what it has told the college it can and can not do regarding the program."The FAA told us you can only run the program in one place," Bacastow said.
"The FAA is horsing us around," Board member LaDonna Lanning said."Students are the ones we are trying to protect. We want to assure you that we are pursuing every possible method for protecting our students." Moving the program from Strother to Wichita affects about 13 students who are from Cowley County. The other half are from the Wichita area. The college has offered to provide transportation to the Cowley County students to the Aviation Tech Center while they complete their program.
Space at the ATC also was an issue with one male student, to which McAtee responded, "The FAA would not approve a facility without the proper square footage and all that."
The group wanted to know why Cowley was moving the program to Wichita."The Strother Field program has been on a string," McAtee said, "and there are a lot of expenditures with the program. And about half the students come from Wichita. Our vision was to do a satellite center at Independence because Cessna is producing the new Mustang. We had agreed to do satellites in Wichita and Independence (along with Strother Field), and the FAA said OK. Well, it wasn't OK. The decision for us is how to have the best program possible for south-central Kansas. All major (aircraft) companies are on an advisory board for the program. Our vision is to have state-of-the-art equipment and services over a period of time."
Sheree Utash, Cowley's vice president for academic and student affairs, said Greg McCoy, Cowley's executive director of aviation programs, plans to meet one-on-one with Strother Field students "to address everyone's needs. We're still waiting for answers from the FAA. We will try to the best of our abilities to meet the needs of students." The group was asked to put its concerns in writing and submit them to the president's office.
In other matters, the Board:
- Held a 57-minute executive session to discuss non-elected personnel, property acquisition and professional negotiations. Approved amendments to the Neighborhood Revitalization Program by the city of Arkansas City. Lane Massey, assistant city manager, briefed the Board on some of the changes. The program will be reviewed in 2010. It is scheduled to expire six years later.
- Approved the following personnel transactions: Accepted letters of resignation from Aaron Sanderholm, dorm manager and assistant baseball coach; Paul Jackson, associate dean of curriculum and assessment; and Deb Layton, Humanities instructor. The Board also authorized the college to make payment in settlement of a sexual harassment claim made by a former employee against another former employee in 2002, with the names of those involved and conditions of settlement to be confidential by agreement.
- Heard a report from McAtee and Board member Donna Avery on the 109th annual meeting of The Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges & Schools held March 27-30 in Chicago. McAtee said, "The best thing for me is we met with Dr. (Steven) Spangehl (with North Central), and he assured us he likes what we're doing. He's blessed everything we're doing." Said Avery, "I think I was the only non-educator there, and it was wonderful to see the interaction we have among different groups and colleges with AQIP (Academic Quality Improvement Project). It was a very good conference."
- The Board also acknowledged Tom Saia, director of athletics, for being selected for induction into the National Junior College Athletic Association Football Hall of Fame.